The Fabulous Visit to the ER: turning customer expections on its head (resulting in great word of mouth marketing)
About a week ago, I had a most enjoyable experience in the ER.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Enjoyable and ER are used together in the same sentence (is this a first?).
But why am I proclaiming this? It all starts with customer expectations…
I damaged my eye while doing yard work. At first, I didn’t think the wound was serious, but when my eye started throbbing later that night, I sought emergency treatment. At 9 PM on a Monday night I packed a bag with books, a change of clothes, and toiletries, and I braced myself for a horrible experience.
Is it sterotypical? Or simply true? that everyone who visits the ER has a nightmare of an experience – hours and hours of waiting, of impersonal serivce, not to mention the horror of the scenes and sounds of anguish throughout. I was prepared to see scenes of death, and to be in the ER until dawn.
Instead, I arrived at a modern, clean, well-lit University of Wisconsin ER department. It is well-run and customer-focused. I was checked in quickly and efficiently, my treatment was prompt and thoroughly explained, and the customer care was commendable and better than most retail establishments I visit for pleasure (would I mind please filling out a short survey about my experience? Would I mind if someone called the net day to check on me and make sure I am ok?).
Even my parking ticket was validated and I noticed throughout the ER that I was considered a “guest” of the department. I was home by 10:50 PM.
So the UW Hospital has created a customer-driven medical experience where it least expected. And this is a smart business decision to train the staff and doctors to be caring and to go the extra mile, as I do have a choice when it comes to emergency medical treatment. I also now have the power to tell everyone I know how nice this particular ER is (and most people – and not just marketers – recognize how crucial word of mouth is).
So this experience is something we can all learn from – give an unexpectedly good (even exceptional) experience, apply all the important customer service principles – and great things can happen.
Imagine that. Positive word of mouth about the ER because my low expectations were completely blown out of the water – I am walking around telling my story to anyone who will listen to me. So think about this story when working with your own clients – and determine what you can do to enhance their experience so they will talk about it with everyone they know.
It will make everyone happy.
[BTW, the Kinks Word of Mouth album was a favorite of mine in the '80s.]